Nick Potts/PA via AP

FA Cup: Sanchez debuts, helps Man Utd into 5th round

Leave a comment

The first two (of 16) FA Cup fourth-round ties were contested on Friday, and with neither requiring a replay, two places in the fifth round have been spoken for…

[ MORE: Friday’s transfer rumor roundup | Thursday | Tuesday ]

Yeovil Town 0-4 Manchester United

The 4-0 final score is more than a little flattering on Man United, who struggled to find their footing for a period of Friday’s clash with League Two side Yeovil. For the fourth year in a row, the Red Devils are through to the fifth round — now just two more victories away from a semifinals appearance at Wembley Stadium.

For much of the game’s opening half-hour, Yeovil played well above their current league standing (21st, just a point and a place clear of relegation, in England’s fourth division) and caused more problems than they themselves faced. It was relatively short-lived, though, as United wrestled control back something between the 30th and 35th minutes, just in time to grab what turned out to be the winning goal a few minutes before halftime. Marcus Rashford pounced on a fatal lapse of concentration, and all of Yeovil’s hard work was undone, just like that.

The only storyline that truly mattered ahead of Friday’s game revolved around Alexis Sanchez and his potential debut after arriving from Arsenal earlier in the week. The 29-year-old Chilean did indeed make his debut at Huish Park, and tallied his first assist for the club in the process. Rather than firing from distance himself, Sanchez played Ander Herrera through in the 61st minute, and the Spaniard finished from a difficult angle to make it 2-0.

Jesse Lingard (89th minute) and Romelu Lukaku (92nd) made the final score more comfortable than it perhaps should have been after coming on as substitutes late in the second half.

Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 Reading

Championship side Sheffield Wednesday are also through to the fifth round four the first time in four years after knocking off a fellow second-division foe, Reading, at Hillsborough.

Atdhe Nuhiu scored both the game’s opening and winning goal, making it 1-0 to the home side after a half-hour, and 2-0 after just eight second-half minutes. George Boyd added a third, his first goal of the season, in the 61st minute. Reading’s 87th-minute consolation goal came courtesy of a Cameron Dawson own goal.

Saturday’s FA Cup schedule

Peterborough vs. Leicester City — 7:30 a.m. ET
Southampton vs. Watford — 10 a.m. ET
Wigan Athletic vs. West Ham United — 10 a.m. ET
Middlesbrough vs. Brighton & Hove Albion — 10 a.m. ET
Huddersfield Town vs. Birmingham City — 10 a.m. ET
Notts County vs. Swansea City — 10 a.m. ET
Sheffield United vs. Preston North End — 10 a.m. ET
Milton Keynes Dons vs. Coventry City — 10 a.m. ET
Millwall vs. Rochdale — 10 a.m. ET
Hull City vs. Nottingham Forest — 10 a.m. ET
Newport County vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET
Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion — 2:45 p.m. ET

Sunday’s FA Cup schedule

Chelsea vs. Newcastle United — 7:30 a.m. ET
Cardiff City vs. Manchester City — 11 a.m. ET

Chelsea needs to wait “48 hours” to assess Mount

Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mason Mount‘s move from the Championship to the Premier League has been nearly seamless.

His adjustment to the Champions League was cut down too quickly to get an understanding of whether it would be too big of a jump.

[ MORE: Match recap | Barkley drama ]

Mount, 20, was chopped down by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin, the former Arsenal man, and had to leave the game after just 16 minutes.

Here’s Frank Lampard, from ChelseaFC.com:

“He’s got an ankle injury but we don’t know how bad it is. We’ll have to assess it in the next 48 hours to see the scale of the injury. It was a shame because he started the game well and it meant we had to make the change early on.”

Mount scored nine times with four assists on loan under Lampard at Derby County last season, and has already chipped in three goals for Chelsea this season.

Lampard turned to Pedro off the bench on Tuesday, but any lengthy absence for Mount will spell more time for American youngster Christian Pulisic.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday preview: Man City, Spurs debut

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur begin their UEFA Champions League campaigns on very different results and with very different vibes.

City is coming off a stunning 3-2 loss to injury-hit Norwich City, and is set up in Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk for the third-straight season, a side which beat Pep Guardiola once in four tries between 2017/18 and 2018/19 in the UCL.

[ MORE: UCL Tues. wrap ]

But on Wednesday, Guardiola’s men are going to carry a similar feel to one of his old Barcelona teams, as Pep seemingly will have Fernandinho pull a Javier Mascherano and drop into the back line.

Yes, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are Manchester City’s hopes at center back, now that John Stones has joined Aymeric Laporte on the shelf.

“For me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge,” said Pep Guardiola. “But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players going to come back with Dinho, Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis. … It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. We have to have 11 players on the pitch and I like it, to find a solution. For the players as well to find an incredible step forward.”

Spurs, meanwhile, will simply be trying to build on any momentum gained by a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at the weekend, a win which came after manager Mauricio Pochettino begged his side to “re-focus” after a relatively poor start to the season.

Now a bit more relaxed, Spurs head to Greece as the clear favorites against stingy Olympiacos. These are, after all, the finalists of last season’s tournament.

Pochettino won’t be sleeping on the challenge, from The London Evening Standard:

“They have good players and if we are not focused and don’t take our best game we are going to suffer. But last season we played in the final of Champions League, so it’s normal people think before the game, Tottenham is one step above Olympiacos but in the end you need to show it on the pitch.”

Spurs are one of two early kickoffs on Tuesday.

Full UCL Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Galatasaray
Olympiacos v. Tottenham Hotspur

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Paris Saint-Germain v. Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Dinamo Zagreb v. Atalanta
Bayern Munich v. Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Manchester City

American coach Marsch speaks after landmark Champions League day

Photo by Andreas Schaad/Bongarts/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jesse Marsch made his UEFA Champions League debut on Tuesday, a historic first for not just the Wisconsin native but also his country.

Marsch, 45, oversaw Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 demolition of Genk, becoming the first American to win a UCL match as manager.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

“We knew we were going into the match full of confidence,” he said, via the Salzburg site. “We knew too that we could put in a performance of this quality. I wasn’t pleased with a few situations, such as conceding for 3-1. That shows our incredible mentality though as it prompted us to give a few more percent and immediately score two goals.”

The ex-New York Red Bulls manager and RB Leipzig assistant manager got another three goals from incredible 19-year-old striker Erling Braut Haland, who nows has 17 goals in nine matches this season.

“It is an absolute joy to work with this team. We have a lot of players who just know how to battle, and that rubs off on the others. You can see that on the pitch on nights like tonight.”

There will be tougher nights ahead for Marsch, who is in a group with Liverpool and Napoli, but Tuesday was a fine start for the tactician. And it was a banner moment for American coaches abroad, who’ve been led by past and present USMNT coaches Bob Bradley and Gregg Berhalter.

Maybe one day that’ll be Marsch’s title… but it seems like he may have some loftier ground to cover on his path through world soccer.

Klopp: Liverpool made wrong decisions; Penalty also incorrect

Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is going to bat for his left back after Andrew Robertson gave away what became the decisive penalty in a 2-0 loss to Napoli in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” Klopp said. “What can I say, for me, it is clear and obvious no penalty. He jumps before any contact, we can’t change that.”

[ RECAP: Napoli 2-0 Liverpool ]

For what it’s worth: It sure seemed like both a foul on Robertson and a comical embellishment from Callejon, but we digress.

Liverpool just didn’t have it on the day, like when Sadio Mane played a terrible pass to Mohamed Salah on what could’ve been an easy 1-0 lead.

In the moments they did have it, there was Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret making a splendid save.

“We played a lot of good football but didn’t finish it off. We controlled moments but had not enough chances in the end. We made decisions that were not right and have to accept the result. It was very often the final ball that was not right.”

Also, forgive Klopp if he has stopped enjoying the beautiful country of Italy.